Early testing of Supersonic’s Unlimited Air Fiber product showed impressive speeds and latency, indicating that the company may have good reason to claim it offers âfiber-likeâ connectivity.
Supersonic launched the new uncapped wireless broadband product in May, but encountered some issues during deployment due to a shortage of antennas needed to connect clients.
Supersonic CEO Calvin Collett told MyBroadband that the ISP is now in weekly communication with stakeholders to get customer units through and hope to have stock in the country by the end of July.
Despite the problems, Collett said the technology behind Unlimited Air Fiber – which was developed by the American company Tarana Wireless – exceeded their expectations.
âWe have spent a good few years researching the product and have been incredibly vigilant in our testing, especially given the internet access needs that we must meet in the areas that need it most,â said Collett. .
âMTN has subjected the product to a matrix of 70 key metrics that it must comply with to be successful. “
Supersonic invited MyBroadband to one of the first Unlimited Air Fiber customers to test the new solution for ourselves.
The client, Mmatankiso Botsane, had her Air Fiber antenna installed on the roof of her house in early May.
From there it transfers and receives data from connected equipment installed on an MTN tower about 3-4 km away.
In particular, the line of sight of the antenna is masked by several trees. Despite this, Botsane said the connection was working fine.
Below are images of the antenna on its roof, pointed at the mobile network tower.
Botsane told us that it had canceled its 20 / 20Mbps fiber plan with Afrihost on the Vumatel network to take the 20 / 10Mbps Air Fiber option from Supersonic.
The Afrihost / Vumatel fiber plan cost him R 907 per month, while Air Fiber’s 20/10 Mbps connection is priced at R 599 per month.
Since the change, she said she uses online remote working software like Microsoft Teams and easily streams videos to Netflix and YouTube.
To offer us the full experience of unlimited air fiber, Supersonic has temporarily switched the Botsane Air Fiber package to 100/40 Mbps.
This is the fastest available offer in the range and is priced at R999 per month.
We connected our test stand via Ethernet cable to a regular Zyxel AC1200 router, which was also connected via cable to the terminal attached to the Air Fiber antenna.
Below are pictures of our setup and the router.
First, we performed speed tests using the MyBroadband speed test website.
We measured a maximum download speed of 106.41 Mbps, and the connection consistently exceeded 100 Mbps for downloads.
Notably, there was little variation between upload speeds, upload speeds, and latency.
Only one of the download results was below 100 Mbps, and it was only 0.81 Mbps below that mark. On average, download speeds were around 102.6 Mbps.
Download speeds averaged 44.4 Mbps, with only one of 10 tests measuring below the advertised 40 Mbps.
Latency was also impressive, ranging from 8ms to 13ms and averaging 10.7ms.
The table below shows the results for each of the speed tests we performed. Average download speeds, download speeds, and latency that we measured are shown in bold.
|Unlimited Air Fiber Speed ââTest Results|
|104.17 Mbps||44.96 Mbps||8ms|
|102.31 Mbps||42.99 Mbps||9 ms|
|102.72 Mbps||45.21 Mbps||11ms|
|102.56 Mbps||37.65 Mbps||13ms|
|99.19 Mbps||44.15 Mbps||12ms|
|101.37 Mbps||41.95 Mbps||13ms|
|100.36 Mbps||45.19 Mbps||10ms|
|102.47 Mbps||44.76 Mbps||10 ms|
|104.39 Mbps||49.43 Mbps||10 ms|
|106.41 Mbps||48.20 Mbps||11ms|
|102.6 Mbps||44.4 Mbps||10.7 ms|
We then took a look at exactly how the above throughput translates into actual performance.
The first area of ââinterest was file downloads.
A line speed of 100 Mbps translates to a maximum of 12.5 Mbps.
The actual throughput may be lower depending on the particular platform a file is downloaded from and may be degraded if other applications are consuming bandwidth as well.
We started off with a download of Dota 2 on Steam, which was roughly 15.2 GB in size.
We then checked the performance of the connection for a typical browser-based download and downloaded a 1.46GB WeTransfer ZIP file in Chrome.
Finally, we wanted to see what the performance of a torrent download looked like.
Supersonic told MyBroadband that it does not shape or choke the Unlimited Air Fiber product in any way, so we were curious if this extends to the Bittorrent protocol, which is generally a prime target for the strangulation.
We uploaded a 2 GB ISO image file for the Ubuntu Desktop operating system to test this claim.
The table below shows the download time of each file, the maximum speed while downloading, and the average file download speed.
Our next test was to see how connection latency would behave in games.
We observed our ping in three matches – Apex, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Rocket League – over a period of one minute each.
While Apex can currently only be played on international servers, CS: GO and Rocket League have a local presence.
When starting Apex we found the lowest ping listed on a Belgium based server at 182ms. Playing on this server resulted in a latency of around 185-200ms.
These numbers are impressive for a wireless network and similar to what you might get over fiber.
The London-based server for Apex posted a ping of 187 ms.
CS: GO hovered between 25 and 35ms and sometimes dropped to 50ms for just a few seconds when a new round started.
Rocket League had the lowest ping and the least variation in latency at 22-26ms on a South African server.
The table below shows the highest and lowest pings we recorded on each title.
Finally, many people would likely use their uncapped broadband on video streaming services.
Since the connection was much faster than the minimum required for 4K resolution, we used a Netflix Premium package to see if we could get a 4K compatible title to achieve this quality.
Sadly, our Netflix stream never went above 1080p, although its buffering bar showed it had already been downloaded long before our current take on the timeline.
It is unlikely that this was due to the connection itself, but it was possibly related to our computer not supporting the resolution or meeting the minimum necessary specifications.
Netflix itself says it’s currently investigating an issue where titles aren’t available in Ultra HD, even on 4K devices.
We had no problem streaming 4K on YouTube without any buffering. The buffering section of the video was way ahead of our point of view just seconds after the video started.
The images below show the video streaming performance of the connection on Netflix and YouTube.